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Automated Field Interviewer Workload Allocation Tools in Action
Population Survey Operations section (PSO) maintain a workforce of field interviewers to approach Australian householders to conduct surveys. Operating on a 6 week - 3 month in advance schedule, PSO release allocations to each interviewer of upcoming survey specific "workloads" of household locations for personal and/or telephone interviews. Household surveys can either be regular (Monthly Population Survey) or irregular one-off and lasting for one or several months (Special Social Surveys). The survey specific workloads are expected to be conducted in particular 1, 2 or 3 week periods.
Interviewer workload allocation is subject to constraints such as the number of available interviewers, dates when interviewers are available for duty, geographical location of interviewers and workloads, training for particular surveys, and the enumeration period within which a survey collection must occur. In late 2011 operations research consultant Olena Gavriliouk produced and released the Automated Workload Allocation Tool (AWAT) for field trial with PSO. This release included an interviewer travel model and predicted interviewer weekly work hours that have been well used by PSO to finalise workload allocation decisions.
In 2012 Olena has further expanded the sophistication of AWAT based on the live field experience, to deal with the iterated advance allocations that PSO needs to do survey and interviewer management. The AWAT project has also involved the provision of database based tools providing (i) geospatial views of interviewer and workload locations with pop-up information summaries, (ii) cross tabulated views of weekly interviewer assignments with predicted work hours and monthly summaries, and (iii) editing tools to immediately enter field staff changes for prompt reuse of AWAT.
AWAT is currently being used directly by PSO staff to produce first-cut weekly field assignments for interviewers for many months in advance and to provide information on interviewer capacity planning. AWAT is producing efficient allocations and saves many staff-hours which in the past were devoted to the manual process of allocation.
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